Practical ways to help
Help inform family, friends or colleagues
Following the birth, the bereaved parents will be grieving, and it may be hard to talk to lots of people. Ask them if you can contact loved ones on their behalf and any considerations they have at this time.
They may choose not to tell people straight away, only a select few in the first few days or weeks, or share on social media.
Sending flowers is a heartfelt gesture however for some grieving parents it can be overwhelming when they return home to multitude of bouquets. Some might find this heartening and supportive but for others, once the flowers start to wilt, it can have an impact on their well-being.
It is up to each individual to decipher what you feel is appropriate to send but it has been suggested by some bereaved families in our community to provide a donation to help support stillbirth research in lieu of flowers.
Understand more about stillbirth
For many, stillbirth is relatively unheard and unknown in society. The Foundation is working incredibly hard to change this by being a voice for our community, sharing their stories and advocating in honour of their babies born sleeping. To help support your family and friends, we encourage you to learn more about stillbirth, current research, support available and read our communities stories.
Help create memories of their baby
Depending on your relationship, offer to take photographs, video or organise a professional photographer to create memories while in they are in hospital or at home.
They may need your help to bring something already purchased from home or need you to go shopping on their behalf for clothing, jewellery, blankets, plush toys or other special items to include in the photos.
There are a number of kind-hearted and generous suppliers who help to make painted handprints and footprints or impressions, custom name prints or engraving.
If you’re not sure where to start, ask the hospital midwives or social worker for local recommendations.
Many bereaved parents may not be aware of what is available to them or may not feel up to creating memories, but our community recommends that at least one keepsake or memento for the parents to have or reflect on, when they are ready.
Help around the house
Help with the groceries, prepare home-cooked meals, tidy the house or garden, wash and fold the laundry, run errands or help pay bills.
Help with other children
Childcare or school drop off and pick up, extra-curricular activities, help preparing school lunches, completing homework or looking after the children for a short period of time to attend appointments or rest.
Help with the funeral
Help making decisions with the Funeral Director, organising flowers or mementos, completing paperwork, or paying bills.
Of course there are many other ways in which people may need or want help and this is by no means an exhaustive list. It’s important that bereaved parents feel supported and loved during this time, and sometime even the smallest of actions can make a big difference.
What not to say
It is extremely hard to know the right thing to say to someone who has experienced unexpected loss and is grieving.
Hearing the words: “I’m so sorry for the loss of your baby [or baby name, if a name has been given] and I am thinking of you both during this time,” is a beautiful gesture.
And if you don’t know what to say, simply say that. People feel there is pressure about what to say or what not say but your honesty and compassion will be enough.
Actions rather than words can be powerful. A warm hug, shoulder to cry on or sitting with a listening ear.
In her My Baby’s Voice video series, bereaved mother to Xavier Rocket, Ann-Maree Imrie talks about practicing ‘compassionate listening’. That is, listening with only one intention or purpose to help bereaved parents suffer less and enable deep healing.
In our uncertainty about what to say, sometimes we make comments which could be perceived as giving advice about how to move through the grieving process.
They may seem well-intentioned, however comments such as ‘pull yourself together’, ‘it’s time to move on’, ‘at least you know you can fall pregnant’, ‘you can have another baby’ or ‘you’re lucky to have other children’ can be hurtful and should be avoided.
It is important to simply listen to the parents, sit and cry with them or give them space. Be guided by them and respect their wishes in relation to their grieving process, funeral arrangements and coming to terms with this life altering event.
Long term ways to help
The loss of a stillborn baby will always be felt. To continue supporting bereaved parents, call, text or send a card on the birthdays, special family events or holidays to let them know they are in your thoughts or consider making a donation.
These occasions will all be tinged by sadness but remembering your family or friend’s baby at these times will assure them that their baby is recognised and cherished.
We are always amazed and grateful to see our community relish the opportunity to help with stillbirth research by hosting and attending fundraising events or initiatives. Find out what’s on in your state or plan your own.
Read stories from our community sharing how they continue to remember and honour their children.